Donald Penn

NFC East Notes: Williams, Cowboys, Giants

Trent Williams continues to hold out from Redskins camp, but the team is standing firm on the trade front. Despite acquiring Donald Penn, the Redskins have told teams they have no plans to trade Williams, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Teams continue to inquire about the 10th-year left tackle’s availability, but thus far, Washington has resisted. Williams, 31, is upset with the organization because of his contract and its handling of a health scare of his. Some around the league believe the Patriots will make a play for the seven-time Pro Bowler, but nothing is moving on this front yet. This may be an attempt for Washington to drive up the price, but for now, Williams remains a Redskins employee.

As for Washington’s left tackle situation, Penn and 2018 third-rounder Geron Christian are battling for the spot, Albert Breer of SI.com tweets. Ereck Flowers is back at guard but may be behind fourth-round rookie Wes Martin.

Here is the latest from the NFC East:

  • Deandre Baker will miss time for the Giants because of a knee sprain, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com notes (video link). However, the first-round pick’s ACL did not sustain damage, and the Giants appear to expect him back soon. Baker will likely be asked to start in his first season, with Big Blue’s cornerback corps rather thin.
  • The Cowboys gave fourth-round pick Tony Pollard just four carries in their preseason opener, but Jerry Jones may be using that to send a message to holdout Ezekiel Elliott. “He looks confident out there. We know he’s inordinately understanding what it is he does and what he can do,” Jones said, via ESPN.com’s Todd Archer. “We’ve seen him do it. We know he’s capable, if he really needs to, carry the whole load.” Pollard gained 16 yards against the 49ers. While Dak Prescott‘s negotiations have been talking points in the past two days, not much has emerged on the Elliott front. Jones said (via Jon Machota of The Athletic, on Twitter) nothing has changed regarding Dallas’ extension candidates.
  • Third-year Cowboys defensive end Taco Charlton addressed his current situation, which may not involve a full-time starting role. The 2017 first-round pick has just four career sacks and said he was not asked to rush quarterbacks as much as he did as a rookie. He mentioned discussing his NFL future with his agent recently (via Machota, subscription required). “We know my value and everything like that, so everything is good,” Charlton said. “I’m here right now working hard with this team. I will show up every day to work hard, healthy, hurt, whatever may be. Shoulder hurt, I still show up every day to work hard.” The Cowboys have DeMarcus Lawrence recovering from surgery, Robert Quinn out two games with a suspension and Randy Gregory once again banned. The defending NFC East champs will need Charlton, especially early.
  • On another NFC East defensive line, the Eagles saw their 2017 first-round pick return to 11-on-11 drills. Derek Barnett participated in team work for the first time in camp, Dave Zangaro of NBC Sports Philadelphia notes. Barnett spent the offseason recovering from a shoulder injury that sent him to IR in October. The Eagles traded Michael Bennett and lost Chris Long to retirement, pointing to a big role for Barnett.
  • The Giants lost another wide receiver for the season. Recent addition Amba Etta-Tawo tore one of his Achilles’ tendons, per NJ.com’s Matt Lombardo. In his second camp with the Giants, the Syracuse alum has yet to play in a regular-season game. Big Blue is down Sterling Shepard and Corey Coleman and will be without Golden Tate for the season’s first four games.

Redskins To Sign Donald Penn

The Redskins have made a major upgrade on the offensive line. The team is set to sign veteran tackle Donald Penn to a one-year deal, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). 

[RELATED: “No End In Sight” To Trent Williams Holdout]

Penn will provide the Redskins with serious insurance against Trent Williams‘ very serious holdout. His presence also means that the team won’t have to rely heavily Ereck Flowers, a former draft bust of the rival Giants who was originally signed to play on the interior.

The Redskins expressed interest in Penn during his 2014 free agency and, many years later, they finally got their man. Penn is a proven commodity, though he was shelved by injury for much of the 2018 season. Prior to that, he started in 174 of 176 possible games dating back to 2007.

This might not be the end of the team’s offensive line shuffling. The Redskins could still use some depth, particularly at guard, and the club could explore trading Williams now that they have a proper fill-in.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Donald Penn To Visit Redskins

Not much has transpired on the Donald Penn front since the Raiders released him. Trent Williams‘ holdout looks to have changed that. The Redskins will host the former Raiders and Buccaneers tackle on a visit, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Penn will work out for the team, John Keim of ESPN.com tweets.

The Raiders cut Penn more than four months ago, and other than some interest from the Texans, the 36-year-old blocker has experienced a quiet free agency stay. Washington, though, may be ready to move on bringing in a Williams replacement/stopgap. It could also be an attempt to bring the holdout back into the fold.

Washington expressed interest in Penn during his 2014 free agency, Mike Jones of USA Today tweets. Redskins president Bruce Allen was with the Bucs when they drafted Penn.

Penn profiles as a far more proven player than Ereck Flowers, who slid over to left tackle during Washington’s minicamp. Flowers has struggled at tackle throughout his career, and although the Redskins were planning to try him at guard, it looks like they will keep him on the edge for the time being, Jay Gruden said (via Les Carpenter of the Washington Post, on Twitter).

The Raiders deployed Penn as their left tackle starter for four seasons, then moved him to the right side for what turned out to be a short stay. An early-season injury shelved Penn for most of the 2018 season. Prior to that, he had started 174 of a possible 176 regular-season games since entering the league in 2007.

While the Williams situation is unique, based on the 10th-year tackle being at odds with the Redskins because of their handling of an injury, Penn has been through multiple holdouts in recent years. It’s interesting another standout’s absence could create an opportunity for Penn.

It makes sense for the Redskins to protect themselves at left tackle, but Penn coming in would point to the team considering a Williams trade. The Redskins can begin fining their nine-year left-edge blocker, who also wants a new contract, for camp absences. Williams’ contract demand also comes after he has missed extensive time in recent seasons. Regardless, Washington’s left tackle spot remains in flux. Penn’s involvement complicates this situation further.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Texans To Meet With A.J. McCarron

The Texans are keeping themselves busy in the second week of free agency. On Monday, the Texans will meet with quarterback A.J. McCarron, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). 

Furthermore, the Texans have some interest in former Raiders tackle Donald Penn, as Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle tweets. They’ll also meet with former Bills tackle Jordan Mills on Monday, a source tells Mike Florio of PFT (Twitter link).

Earlier this offseason, the Raiders said they’d be keeping McCarron in the fold for 2019. However, they had a change of heart along the way (or, they weren’t being entirely truthful about their intentions) and released the QB earlier this month.

It has been a strange few years for McCarron. In 2015, he started a few games in Andy Dalton‘s stead and showed some promise. Then, last March, he appeared to finally be on his way towards becoming a bonafide NFL starter when he hooked on with the Bills. Ultimately, he did not impress in his competition alongside Nathan Peterman and Josh Allen and was shipped to the Raiders. For the bulk of 2018, he held the clipboard and watched Derek Carr go 4-12 in his 16 starts.

McCarron could be a logical fit for the Texans, who may be looking for a new No. 2 behind Deshaun Watson. Last year, Brandon Weeden and Joe Webb served as Watson’s understudies, but both are free agents.

Penn, meanwhile, saw his Raiders run end over the weekend. The Raiders are moving forward with high-priced pickup Trent Brown, but Penn indicated that he plans to continue playing. The Texans, who have been forced to make adjustments on the fly at tackle, could be intently interested in adding someone with Penn’s pedigree.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Raiders Release Donald Penn

Donald Penn‘s run with the Raiders will end after five seasons. Days after signing Trent Brown, the Raiders are planning to release Penn, Vic Tafur of The Athletic tweets. The Raiders and Penn confirmed the move.

Penn’s Twitter post about his Raiders exit indicates he does not plan to retire. It also appears to state, through some additional capitalized letters, a desire to return to left tackle in 2019.

Involved in contract issues with the Raiders in each of the past two summers, Penn nevertheless retained his spot on their starting offensive line. Jon Gruden moved him from left to right tackle last season. The Raiders drafted tackles with their first two 2018 picks and authorized a tackle-record deal for Brown earlier this week. This pretty well indicated Penn’s time in Oakland was ending.

The soon-to-be 36-year-old blocker had $7.2MM coming his way this season. The Raiders will save $5.5MM by making this move. Penn’s redone contract guaranteed him $1.75MM in 2019, but he will have to continue his career elsewhere. For the Raiders, this bumps them back above $35MM in cap space.

Penn’s Raiders tenure included two Pro Bowls, in 2016 and ’17, but ended with an early-season injury in 2018. He started just four games last season, the injury leading second-round pick Brandon Parker into the starting lineup. Parker may now be set for a swing role, with Brown and Kolton Miller seemingly entrenched as the Silver and Black’s starters.

A longtime Buccaneers blocker, Penn arrived in Oakland in 2014 and was soon part of a top-tier offensive line. The Raiders in 2016-17 deployed three Pro Bowlers — Penn, Kelechi Osemele and Rodney Hudson — and in ’16 featured higher-end right-side blockers in Gabe Jackson and Austin Howard.

Penn, who also caught two touchdown passes as a Raider, started 66 games during his five-season run in Oakland. After this move and Osemele being traded to the Jets, only Hudson and Jackson remain from the Raiders’ 2016 playoff line.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Raiders To Sign LT Trent Brown

The Raiders are making some serious noise in March. On Monday, the club agreed to sign former Patriots tackle Trent Brown to a four-year, $66MM deal, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. The pact, which includes $36.75MM guaranteed, will make Brown the highest-paid offensive lineman in NFL history. 

The league-wide dearth of quality offensive lineman has taken the OL market to previously unforeseen heights. Brown had an excellent platform season in his first (and only) year with the Patriots in 2018, but few expected him to break the bank in this fashion.

Last year, Brown started in all 19 regular and postseason games for New England en route to a Super Bowl championship. Pro Football Focus was bullish on his performance, ranking him 32nd among 80 eligible linemen.

The Raiders already had a left tackle in UCLA product Kolton Miller, but he’ll be shifted back over to the right side, Schefter hears (Twitter link). Miller, who many felt was a reach at No. 15 overall in last year’s draft, produced mixed results in his 16 starts last year. The youngster may have a greater comfort level on the opposite side of Brown.

Meanwhile, veteran Donald Penn is a “strong candidate for release,” according to Michael Gehlken of the Review- Journal (on Twitter). By cutting Penn, the Raiders can save $7.225MM against the 2019 cap. Due to injuries, the usually durable Penn was limited to only four games in 2018.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Raiders’ Donald Penn Unlikely To Play

An official decision on whether to bring Donald Penn back off injured reserve won’t come for a couple days, head coach Jon Gruden says. However, Gruden does not anticipate the veteran offensive tackle playing again this season (Twitter link via Scott Bair of NBC Sports Bay Area). 

[RELATED: Raiders Designate Donald Penn For Return]

Penn was designated for return earlier this month, but that was a perplexing move by the Raiders on a few different fronts. First, the move blocked Marshawn Lynch from potentially playing in the club’s Christmas Eve home finale, which might have bought them some good will in Oakland. Secondly, the Raiders would risk being stuck with the entirety of Penn’s 2019 salary if he were to suffer a serious injury down the stretch.

As it stands, the Raiders have an escape hatch on the 35-year-old’s deal. If they want to release Penn in the offseason, they can 86 his contract with just $1.75MM left in dead money.

At 3-11, there’s little reason for the Raiders to roll the dice on Penn’s health, so he’s unlikely to see the field for the club’s final two games against the Broncos and Chiefs.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Raiders Designate Donald Penn For Return

Left tackle Donald Penn will return to practice on Wednesday, Vic Tafur of The Athletic tweets. The move will trigger a three-week window for the club to bring him back from injured reserve. 

The move is a curious one for a few reasons. First, the Raiders’ season has been long over – at 2-10, winning will only serve to push the Raiders from the top of the draft order in April. Penn, meanwhile, may be a cap casualty candidate and a serious injury could leave the Raiders on the hook for his entire salary in 2019. As it stands, only $1.750MM of his 2019 income is guaranteed.

Also, by designating Penn for return, the Raiders are eliminating the possibility of Marshawn Lynch seeing the field again in 2018. The Raiders already burned one IR-DTR spot on defensive tackle Justin Ellis, so Lynch is now barred from playing in the club’s Christmas Eve home finale against the Broncos.

Penn appeared in 14 games for the Raiders last season, the first time in his career that he failed to appear in all 16 regular season contests. Pro Football Focus ranked him 23rd among eligible tackles, proving that the veteran still has something left in the tank. In his limited sample of four games this season, PFF gave him a putrid 47.0 overall score.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Raiders Hoping For Donald Penn Return

Raiders offensive tackle Donald Penn has been on injured reserve since early October, but head coach Jon Gruden is still hoping to get him back on the field this season (via Scott Bair of NBC Sports Bay Area).

[RELATED: Raiders Want To Keep Doug Martin]

He has been downstairs rehabbing and we are hoping he can come back and help us,” Gruden said. “I don’t know how close he is officially, but he is making progress. Hope to have him on the field before the season is over.”

Of course, the 2-9 Raiders aren’t playing for much this year, so there’s little sense in putting Penn on the field if he is less than 100%. There’s also the matter of his contract. As it stands, only $1.750MM of his 2019 income is guaranteed. However, if he were to suffer a serious injury, the Raiders could be on the hook for his entire salary.

Also, activating Penn would rule out the possibility of a Marshawn Lynch return. The Raiders already burned one IR-DTR spot on defensive tackle Justin Ellis, so activating Penn would keep Lynch from playing in the team’s Christmas Eve home finale against the Broncos.

Penn appeared in 14 games for the Raiders last season, the first time in his career that he failed to appear in all 16 regular season contests. Pro Football Focus ranked him 23rd among eligible tackles, proving that the veteran still has something left in the tank.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Raiders To Place Donald Penn On IR

Donald Penn suffered a groin injury in the Raiders’ overtime win over the Browns and will head to IR as a result, Ian Rapoport and MJ Acosta of NFL.com report (on Twitter).

The team does not view this as a season-ending malady, Rapoport adds, and Jon Gruden confirmed as such. Penn would be able to return in eight weeks.

The Raiders are turning to another team’s practice squad to replace Penn on the roster. They’re signing tackle Ian Silberman off the Titans’ practice squad, Paul Gutierrez of ESPN.com reports. Silberman went to the past two Raiders training camps and started at right tackle during part of the preseason. He made the team out of camp but was waived before Week 1.

Second-round pick Brandon Parker will start at right tackle on Sunday, according to The Athletic’s Vic Tafur (on Twitter), giving Oakland two rookie tackle starters flanking three proven veterans inside. Parker’s played 57 snaps this season. Penn has logged 188 at his new position, but, at least in the view of Pro Football Focus, the transition from left to right tackle has not gone well. Penn’s graded as the league’s worst full-time tackle, per PFF.

Nevertheless, the Raiders hope he can be an IR-return candidate. Penn’s profile would suggest as much. This has been another interesting year for the veteran blocker. He was the subject of trade rumors coming into the season, and the 35-year-old tackle was moved off the left side — where Kolton Miller now resides — for the first time in his 11-year NFL career. This occurred despite Penn making the past two Pro Bowls.

This injury will represent the most time Penn has missed as an NFLer as well. Prior to last season, when he played 14 games, Penn had suited up for every game of his career.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.